Day 16 – Ledges(152.1) to 158.7 Mile
River Miles: 6.6
Hiking Miles: 8
April 2, 2013
Steve-O’s coffee call echoed off the canyon walls at Ledges Camp, followed by a breakfast of eggs, sausage, and bagels. This would be a relatively short day on the River. We planned to spend most of it at the magnificent Havasu Creek.
The wonders of Havasu are known to many outside the regular sphere of Grand Canyon hiking and river-running addicts. Its magical, aqua-blue waterfalls are commonly visited throughout the year as the treasure of the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
Havasu is a long side canyon – I’d never explored it farther than an 11-mile hike from the rim (to Mooney Falls). Jackie had never been there at all, so this day from the River would be a new experience for both of us.
This tiny, ethereal slot canyon lies at the mouth of the creek where it meets the Colorado River. It’s an interesting pull-in for the boats. There was only room to tie a couple of rafts to the wall of the canyon, so we had to fasten all of our boats together. Then it was necessary to wade into the water and walk around a corner to access the creek above the slot.
tailwaves of the minor Havasu Rapid, as seen from the ledges above the creek
This would be a casual day where we were free to split up and enjoy the canyon as we saw fit. Beaver Falls, the lowest of the named waterfalls in Havasu Creek, was the farthest possible destination for a hike (8 miles round trip), so Jackie and I set out to go see it.
The creek is immediately, stunningly gorgeous. The water really is this blue – it’s no trick of photoshop or your computer screen.
It wasn’t long before Jackie said “This is like a fairlyand.”
Havasu feels enchanted.
We just simply enjoyed our hike up the canyon… not without getting our feet wet a few times!
We came upon these cascades where Beaver Canyon entered from the west (Yet another side canyon). It was a long time since I’d seen a photo of Beaver Falls. Nobody else from our group was around, and I mistakenly went ahead and assumed that this was the Beaver Falls! Doh!
So Jackie and I had a nice break here, enjoyed “the falls,” and turned around to head back to the boats.
As if the magic of Havasu wasn’t enough, we were fortunate to come upon this family of bighorn sheep! And… there were babies! Upon spotting the babies, Jackie’s excitement level went into overdrive. We instantly went into stealth mode, creeping ever so silently to try and get a closer look at the sheep.
So there we were, creeping among the bushes, when a sudden, piercing sound made us jump out of our shoes:
We spun around wildly to see the McCumbers and Chris with huge smiles on their faces, clearly pleased at giving us a scare. They hadn’t seen the sheep ahead, and the animals surprisingly didn’t take much notice of these five human beings.
So we all got to enjoy them for a moment and take our pictures.
Soon Jackie and I learned that we had not seen the real, full-blown Beaver Falls, and that it was just around the corner from where we stopped! Shannon excitedly flashed through some pictures of it on her camera, including a video of them leaping into the creek.
Missing the falls was a bummer, but since Jackie and I are lucky to live at the South Rim, we told ourselves that it wouldn’t be too hard to check it out “next time” on a backpacking trip from the rim. (That next time would come soon – only six months later!)
We were reunited with the rest of the group at the boats. Everyone was very relaxed, and seemed to have had a great day of frolicking in the creek. Here’s some videos that Josh took of Nic (The end of the first video is best).
This is our armada of boats parked at the mouth of the creek. At the top of the image you can see where the blue water meets the muddy-brown of the Colorado River.
We called it an early day, just a short distance downstream at 158.7 Mile camp. The River corridor was narrow through here, so this was a confined camp similar to the “Ledges” of the night before.
Jackie and I and Doug were on cook duty, with an easy “boil in bag” dinner of green chile chicken, wild rice, and green beans. The appetizer was some tasty French bread with cream cheese and pesto for dipping, with churros for dessert! At this point in the trip we were beginning to run low on a few things – like cooking oil and sugar for the churros – but they still turned out well. We also finished off a big “handle” bottle of Fireball whiskey that had been going around since the early days of the voyage.
It didn’t rain today.